“Toss another shrimp on the barbie, will ya love?”
It’s the Australian catch-cry advertised since a time before I even came to be.
It was a rather confusing catch-cry, though, to my younger Malaysian-Chinese self as “shrimp” always meant the tiny dried prawn-like bits (often no bigger than a thumbnail) used by my mother to make soup and to be fried with leek. Prawns, on the other hand, were the bright orange creatures with black eyes that stared at you while your stubby five year old fingers wrestled with their tomato-sauce-laden shells.
I wondered, from time to time, how it was that Mr Hogan managed to cook those tiny shrimp on a barbecue. Wouldn’t they fall into the coals through the grill? They were so small – surely they would burn to a crisp?
Until one day, it was all explained to me and I felt that little bit more foolish.
Australia Day is coming up on 26 January 2012, and this one – more so than any other – looks like it will be a special one.
There will be the usual flags, beers and (potentially brain numbing) games of cricket. There will be walks in the (hopefully) blistering sunshine.
And there will be a ceremony in the council chambers, not far from where I live.
The place my mother did work experience as part of her TAFE course.
The place my sister and I get collected from after catching a bus home late at night.
The place where I wave to my very favourite bus-buddy from the kerb as he continues his journey home.
I’ll be sitting in the audience at this ceremony – a big deal for some, less for others – as one of my nearest and dearest officially becomes a part of this country that I grew up in. One that has worked its roots into my Chinese-looking self.
I’m told there will be a native tree handed out at the end and, perhaps, if we are lucky, thick squares of lamington. Perhaps a scone or pie if we are even luckier.
I know that there will be friends, excited at the prospect of a long-term resident finally making the switch, ready to head down to the pub for a beer.
And so! For the occasion, a platter full of butter drenched prawns. Garlicky, herby and fresh!
We made these for our Christmas Eve dinner – threw them on the flat plate of our barbecue once we realised our oven was gone along with the rest of our blacked out house just an hour before dinner was due to be served. The butter melted all over the shop but oh(!) the shells toasted nicely into a lovely burnt caramelised mess.
I made them again for our Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner this Sunday past – this time under the grill in the oven where the butter pooled invitingly in the bottom of the pan and the shells crisped up under the scorching heat. Tip the butter over the top just before serving and make sure there’s plenty of bread on hand. You won’t want to miss a single drop of it.
garlicky butter prawns
you will need:
600g raw (green) prawns
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp chopped dill
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of smoky paprika
6 cloves garlic
how to do it:
1. Grab each prawn and lay it down so that it is on its back. trim its whiskers and legs. Make an incision down its belly from the base of its head to about 1cm from the end of its tail all the way through to the shell. Using the tip of your knife, locate the intestinal tract and remove it. Repeat with the remaining prawns.
2. Mince the garlic finely. Mix it and all of the remaining ingredients in with the butter. You could use a food processor for this or just mush it with your hands until the seasoning is evenly spread throughout the butter.
3. Using a butter knife or teaspoon, squish the butter into the cavity you have cut in each prawn, making sure there is butter the whole way down the prawn. Set the prawn onto a foil lined baking tray, belly up.
4. Turn your oven to the grill setting and heat to a sizzling 250C (or as high as it will go). Pop the prawns in for about 15 minutes, watching carefully the whole time. When the prawn tails curl up and the shells are a gleaming, roasted red, your prawns will be deliciously done!